Confessions of a Modern Day Scrooge

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Okay. Maybe I’m not exactly Scrooge.

After all, I at least try to love Christmas.

This year. This year, it’s not working.

And it’s because the Good News – the God who came to bring us back to Himself – has never seemed less real in my walk with Him.

I’m in a dark, dark place this year, worn out from deeply broken relationships that have created distance – not just for myself, but for my family, for my friends. I remember before the distance, when we all got along. Worse still, I know it never had to be this way: cold, distant, unfeeling. It’s like the antithesis of the gospel, because what is the gospel but nearness?

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:14 NIV).

Why is it that this restoration walk must be riddled with squabbles, and fights, and outright wars? Why is the Church so broken? Why does it compartmentalize and mutilate itself? Doesn’t it know who it is?

It’s dark, indeed, because if the Church doesn’t know who it is, and does not live out of what has been done for it, how do we expect to be any kind of restorative presence in this world?

It makes me want to retreat into the darkness and stay there.

Last night, I had a dream. I know some people don’t believe God still speaks through dreams, but I believe God speaks anywhere He can get us to listen.

Anyway, I dreamed I was taking my two-year-old niece camping. My sister offered to give us a tent, but I said, “No, we’re just going to sleep under the stars.” So we get to the campsite, and it’s dark, and my niece starts saying her Bible memory verses to me. We don’t even have a fire. After a while, I said, “It’s really dark out here, isn’t it?” And she turns to me and says, “The Lord my God will lighten my darkness.” (Psalm 18:28, for anyone wondering.)

When I woke up, I turned the dream over in my mind. As I have been many times this season, I was drawn to Isaiah 9: “Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress…The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (vs. 1a,2 NIV). I was struck earlier this week with this idea of light again in my personal devotions: “You are not come to…darkness, gloom, and storm … But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Hebrews 12:18, 22-24 NIV).

The Lord my God will lighten my darkness.

You know, I can’t fix the Church, and thankfully, that’s not my job. Redeeming her, restoring her, sanctifying her – it’s not up to me. I just know she is redeemed, and is being restored and sanctified. I can only choose to love and take care of her, and to see all she is becoming.

The Lord my God will lighten my darkness.

I can’t make Christmas the way it was when I was a little kid. I can’t make it the way it was thirteen years ago, or even seven years ago. I can’t undo the darkness, no matter how much I want to. I can only look for the light.

The Lord my God will lighten my darkness.

For myself, I’m going to live out the gospel of nearness, no matter how dark and difficult it gets. I will let God bring me light – great light – in the darkness, and I will spread that light to others.

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